Giving birth can be a long and exhausting process, and many women find that having something to eat can help them maintain their energy levels and stay comfortable. However, not all hospitals and birth centers allow women to eat during labor, and some medical professionals recommend against it. So what should you do? Here’s what you need to know about snacks during labor.
Why Some Hospitals Ban Snacks During Labor
Many hospitals and birth centers have policies that prohibit women from eating during labor, especially if they are planning to have an epidural. The reason for this is that if a woman were to need a c-section or general anesthesia, she could aspirate (inhale) her stomach contents, which could be very dangerous. Additionally, some medical professionals believe that eating during labor can increase the risk of vomiting, which can make the delivery more difficult.
What the Research Says
Despite these concerns, some recent studies have suggested that there may be benefits to eating during labor. For example, a 2013 study published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews found that women who were allowed to eat during labor had shorter labors and were less likely to require interventions such as c-sections or forceps deliveries. Additionally, the study found no difference in rates of vomiting or aspiration between women who ate during labor and those who did not.
What to Eat
If you are allowed to eat during labor, it’s important to choose snacks that are easy to digest and won’t cause nausea or heartburn. Here are some ideas:
Fresh fruit (such as grapes, watermelon, or strawberries)-
This is a great option for labor snacks as it’s easy to eat and provides natural sugars for energy. Grapes, watermelon, and strawberries are all good options because they are refreshing and won’t leave a heavy feeling in your stomach.
Crackers or rice cakes-
These snacks are easy to digest and can help settle your stomach if you’re feeling nauseous. They also provide a quick source of energy.
Yogurt or pudding-
These snacks are creamy and easy to swallow, making them a good option for women who may have trouble eating solid foods during labor. They also provide protein and calcium, which can be helpful during labor.
Smoothies or protein shakes-
These snacks can be a great way to get a variety of nutrients in one drink. They are also easy to digest and can help keep you hydrated.
Trail mix or nuts-
These snacks provide protein and healthy fats, which can help keep you feeling full and satisfied during labor. They also provide a quick source of energy.
Oatmeal or granola bars-
These snacks are easy to eat and provide a slow release of energy, which can be helpful during a long labor. They also provide fiber, which can help regulate digestion.
Hard candies or lollipops-
These snacks can help keep your mouth moist and provide a distraction during contractions. They also provide a quick source of sugar, which can give you a burst of energy.
It’s also important to stay hydrated during labor, so be sure to drink plenty of water or other clear fluids.
When to Eat
If you are allowed to eat during labor, it’s best to eat small, frequent meals rather than one large meal. This can help keep your energy levels up without making you feel too full or uncomfortable. Some women find that eating during early labor is easier than during active labor, when contractions are stronger and more frequent. It’s also a good idea to have your snacks on hand and ready to go, so you don’t have to wait for someone to bring them to you.
Whether or not to eat during labor is a personal decision that should be made in consultation with your healthcare provider. If you are allowed to eat, choose snacks that are easy to digest and won’t cause nausea or heartburn. Remember to stay hydrated and eat small, frequent meals rather than one large meal. By doing so, you can help maintain your energy levels and stay comfortable during the birthing process.